Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Thoughts

OMG I am getting crushed at work this week. Sorry for the lack of posting, but that's the culprit right there. But I did want to weigh in with some random thoughts here for a Friday heading into a long-awaited weekend for me after as many hours as I have put in in the office over the past several days. I've done posts like this before and I always seem to enjoy them, so here goes.

1. So the BBT4 is through its first two weeks. It's been fun for the most part, although the bigger crowds and more serious attitude are always a little bit of a downer for me. There've only been a few bitchy blog posts that I've seen, but give it time. The better stuff in my experience has been seeing the people who have to type in things like "nice catch" and who you can tell get really pissed anytime a hand that was at any one point ahead in the hand falls behind at any point later in a hand.

Personally, I've played very well so far in the first two weeks, ending the first sixth of so of the challenge right near the top of the leaderboard. I've made the BBT points in 4 of my 8 events, which is only worth mentioning because I never even consider making the points as I play any of these events. Al told me the other day the points are awarded to the top 25% of the field, so in your typical 80-person blonkament, that is 20 players who are awarded points on the big board. But for me to even be near the top of the board this early is great news, given that twice in my four non-points finishes I have gotten all the money in on the flop drawing to either two or three outs, and somehow managed to lose. Not that I typed "nice catch" into the chatbox about it. In the girly, maybe I blew up just a little bit. But that's nothing out of the ordinary as many of you know. I know I sound like a broken record, but you know you're running bad when you are waiting until after the flop to get your opponent with only two outs allin, and still finding a way to lose. But that's been me, especially in the past few BBT4 events. Overall, though, the crowds are a bit down from last time which I am kinda digging, and I have definitely played more of the events than I had expected to, mostly due to my 3rd place finish in the BBT4 opening Big Game, which paid the buyins for the rest of the entire series for me and bumped me up to the early chart-toppiness when combined with three other "in the points" finishes in the earlygoing here.

2. I understand there are multiple people working prop bets both for and against my action in this BBT4. Unlike some people I won't go chip dumping to try to wreck other people's prop bets, but just remember I haven't been playing nearly as much poker as I once did, and if I drop out of position on the monthly leaderboard at any point then I might be a candidate to skip some of these other games. And for god's sakes, consider who you're betting with. Just a friendly warning.

3. After Thursday's crazy action, there is probably a good 50% chance right now that three of the four #1 seeds in the upcoming NCAA tournament will be from the Big East. UConn and Pitt each lost their games on Thursday night, with UConn ending the day's slate of games with a truly incredible 6-overtime loss to the hated Cuse at Madison Square Garden early on Friday morning. But even with those two teams both losing in the Big East quarterfinals, it is highly likely that they will nab two of the #1 seeds given their current records and strength of schedule in what might have been the toughest conference in the history of college basketball this season. And now with the #2 and #3 seeds in the Big East tournament cleared, this has really paved the way for the regular season Big East champion Louisville Cardinals, who if they go on to win the Big East tournament and complete a 5-loss season, will then have won the regular season and the conference tournament in this year's Big East, which I figure will lock them in as a #1 seed as well this year. Carolina probably gets that fourth #1 more or less regardless of what happens in the ACC tournament this weekend, but I would estimate that there is around a 50% chance that Louisville beats Nova tonight and then the winner of West-Virginia - Syracuse tomorrow, which is highly likely to be WVU after the Cuse basically played two full games last night in their amazing victory over UConn.

4. The stock market -- what a ride! After slumping to fresh 12-year lows for about a week and a half straight with seemingly no end in sight, all of that turned around in a huge hurry a couple of mornings ago when embattled and now government-controlled "financial supermarket" Citigroup announced that it had operated at a profit for the first two months of 2009. Suddenly, a market that was as much oversold as I have seen any market be at any time in the past 20+ years shot up, led by the financial stocks which have been beaten down to truly, truly ludicrous levels. There's a stock I follow -- it's not actually a stock but an ETF, which is a fancy word for a basket of shares of other companies in a particular sector, geography or other grouping -- called the ProShares Ultra Financials, with the symbol UYG. This is a basket of I think 300 broadly defined financial companies, from asset managers to regional banks to money center banks to insurers and some other interesting companies as well. What I really enjoy about UYG is that it is double-leveraged, so that if the financial sector as a whole moves up 5% in a given day, then theoretically UYG will move up 10% that day. Similarly, when every bank on the exchange is down 15% on those horrible days, the UYG can lose 25-30% of its value in just one day. So it's not for the faint of heart, that's for sure, but this thing touched $1.37 a share earlier this week after trading as high as around $75 back in 2007 and around $45 in early 2008. And keep in mind, this isn't some individual stock that's taken a beating because they had some bad news, poor performance, or both. This is a weighted basket of some 300 broadline financial companies, and that entire basket is down about 98% from $75 to $1.37 earlier this week. I find it intriguing as a long-term buy and hold, because at these levels all we need is the banking sector to eventually survive, and as long as I'm willing to hold on to this investment until things have recovered nicely -- that could reasonably be ten years or more I suppose -- I expect it will be very difficult not to make 10 times my money at that price by waiting until the sector is healthy again. But make no mistake, right now as the banks go, so goes the broader stock market.

5. I found out this week from some random blog that Secretary Treasury Tim Geithner previously lived in my current home town. His house is currently on the market as he has moved his family to DC in light of becoming Treasury Secretary. It is a 3600 square foot, 5 bedroom, 4.5 bath home in a decent part of town. The price? $1,650,000. Somehow, New York metro has managed to remain the literal strongest real estate market in the country, with prices only dropping around 9% year over year for real estate in the city and surrounding areas. With the national average closer to 19% since last year this time, and with some particularly hard-hit areas like Vegas, Phoenix, Southern California, Detroit and Southern Florida all seeing 30% or more price declines year over year, 9% ain't bad, and it's made the real estate market in Westchester still look quite fluffy to me. So odds are, it's another year of renting for the Hammer Family.

6. The Hammer Family will be increasing by one, did I mention that here yet? Well yes, it's true -- Mookie, I'm coming to git ya.. There will be another Hoy Baby coming sometime this summer, and Hammer Wife and I are thrilled about it for sure. It's an interesting story, all true: when the Phillies were in the middle of the series with the Dodgers late last year, I told my wife, in all sincerity, that if the Phillies win the World Series then I would take that as a sign from the God I do not believe in that I should given in and acquiesce to Hammer Wife's unending demands to have another child. My only caveats were that I have full and undisputed naming authority for the baby, and that he or she would be in some way named after the Phillies if they won. True story. So fast forward about two weeks later, I got my wish, and the wife got hers. Oh, and the frontrunner if the baby is a boy? Cole. A girl? I'm not sure yet on that one.

7. Oh and btw, it's official -- I will be going out for my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to play in the World Series of Poker as well as to have a bachelor party for my other brother a year after bachelorizing my younger brother in Vegas last summer. The weekend of June 27 will be it for me in 2009, although it looks like I will likely be heading out on Thursday, June 25 sometime in the evening. Expectation is to stay at the Bellagio again, but that remains to be seen. And, it means that this will likely be the highlight of my trip in June:

World Series of Poker
Sat, Jun 27th
12:00 PM
3-Day Event No-Limit Hold’em (Event 51)
No Rebuy/Add-ons

Well, it's either that, or the $50,000 World Championship HORSE event on Friday at noon. I'm still deciding between the two options, any thoughts would be welcome.

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Blogger Astin said...



2008 World Series Champion Philadelpha Phillies? - Would make for a hell of a passport.

10:41 PM  
Blogger 4dbirds said...

Lol, congratulations. I like Tug. T names seem all the thing now. Tagg, Trig, Trip, etc.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

Clearly $50K HORSE is the play.... Weak field IMO :)

2:08 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

Has to be Chase, no?



3:03 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...


12:11 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

congrats on the pending kiddo!

12:48 PM  
Blogger StB said...

I have been nibbling at UYG. Great long term play.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Riggstad said...

Congrats Hoy!

2:47 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...

Congrats on the future addition to teh fam...

11:26 PM  

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